The safe operation of vehicle liftS

Part one

Published:  18 March, 2022

In the first in a new series from the GEA, the focus is on vehicle lifts and what types are available

If there is one thing we take for granted in the motor trade it is the safe operation and reliability of vehicle lifts. We place vehicles on and off, raise them up and lower them down all day long and have total trust in the equipment.
This is because vehicle lifts have fully automatic safety locks, built-in safety devices and have been designed and built to meet European standards. They will also have been installed following the BS7980 standard, are regularly maintained and periodically examined by a competent person.
Sadly, however, the UK motor trade suffers from a few accidents each year. These are often caused by incorrect operation of the lift, poor loading of the vehicle, poor installation or neglected lift maintenance. This series will provide information on how to make an informed purchase, safely operate and position vehicles, and how to comply with the UK’s regulations concerning maintenance and thorough examination.

2-post lifts
The majority of light vehicle lifts sold today in the UK are 2-post surface-mounted types, 40% of these having a drive-over base frame between the posts and the remaining 60% having a clear floor area between posts. Some will use hydraulics to raise the carriage with mounted swing arms and others use a rotating screw and nuts. Because all of the vehicle’s wheels are unrestricted when raised, these lifts make good general-purpose service lifts

4-post platform lifts
Because the 4-post platform lift allows for quick drive-on drive-off vehicle loading and keeps the suspension compressed when raising the vehicle, it has become known as the inspection lift and is used by many MOT stations. When used for servicing light vehicles, it is becoming second in popularity to the 2-post lift. 4-post lifts can have higher lifting capacities, so are popular in light commercial vehicle workshops.

Scissor lifts
Scissor lifts come in two forms. They can have short platforms, which work by placing the load on the vehicle’s body, the sill area for example. These are known as short scissor lifts or wheel free and are often used when servicing light vehicle wheels and brakes.
Scissor lifts can also have a full drive-on platform. These are popular in MOT Vehicle Testing Stations as they do not have the restriction of posts around the lift and make excellent inspection lifts. Larger platform scissor lifts are also popular in HGV and public service vehicle workshops as the load can be spread across multi-scissor actions.

In-ground lifts
In-ground lifts employ hydraulic cylinders sunk into the floor, making very good service lifts that take up little floor area. They are normally used for servicing light vehicles, but with two larger cylinders, which are located beneath the axles, they can be used for working with HGVs and PSVs. Some in-ground lifts have two cylinders, while others use a single-cylinder with four support arms.

Mobile column lifts
Mobile column lifts are very popular with commercial vehicle workshops and are unique in the fact that they require little installation work. They are used in sets of four or above and lift the vehicle directly by supporting its wheels.

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